Monday, March 25, 2019

Business Card Thoughts

Despite it being the age of bump-or-touch to transfer contact information, most of us still need, prefer, expect, or collect the paper prĂ©cis of our professional identities and contact information in the form of 3.5" x 2" pieces of cardstock known as business cards or calling cards. As someone who crafts, instructs, is an officer of a local computer club, a long-standing member of an international fan association, and who has been active in the Diabetes Online Community, I have needed to carry several different versions of these cards, each of which requires a different professional or personal identity, and different subsets of my contact information.
Computer Club (current)
Blogger Card (Blog is still there, just inactive)

While most business-facing people never need to carry more than one version of their card at any time, those of us with social lives or "side hustles" cannot afford to be so narrow-minded.
Early version of our Web Warren cards
The speed with which our social lives change mean that for many of us, ordering 500 business cards through a service like VistaPrint means that 400 or more are likely to be obsolete before they get handed out. For us, home printing has been the service of choice for the past 20 years or so. We purchase 50-sheet (500-card) packages of microperforated paper from Staples, download the appropriate template from Avery (or create our own), add in our personal information, and press "Print".
Front of 2013 diabetes card
2014 card removes AOL Instant Messenger
That said, home printing for me entails a lot of waste. Some of that is because the margins on business cards are so narrow that a slight misregistration ends up with print trailing into the perforated margins (or worse, onto adjacent cards on the page), and some of that because I've had a number of two-sided designs that misfed or misregistered on the second side, rendering a sheet of paper... useless.
Back of 2013 diabetes card
2014 card removes defunct communities,
updates Tour de Cure information
Right now, we're at the stage of having to purchase a new pack of business card blanks. Unlike 20 years ago (or even 10!), the cost seems quite expensive compared to what I remember, and even compared to some of VistaPrint's higher-quality offerings. In comparison, cardstock is relatively cheap, and the flexibility of Design Space's "Print then Cut" feature made me wonder what Cricut's business-card potential might be.

(This is not to say that home electronic cutting machines would be the only way to create business cards from non-perforated cardstock: good manual paper cutters run half the price and serve admirably in a pinch. The problems are that the paper often shifts, and you don't have the sort of precision you can get from an electronic machine.)

For my latest Craft Instructor business cards, I wanted to work with the "Marble Glitter Business Card" template I'd gotten through an email subscription to Font Bundles/Design Bundles. I had some initial font issues in InDesign. After finding and installing the correct typeface and running a test print, the writing came out looking washed out, and the colors were too brownish. Since the original design was a Photoshop file, I opened it to edit. Photoshop CS4 only showed me one business card at the time. I tried Word, but it wasn't letting me layer text over the image frame. It was at this point that I imported the Photoshop-edited single-card graphic into Design Space.I resized the graphic to what seemed a reasonable size, not realizing it was meant as a full-bleed design, meant to be cut inside the decorative border. I ended up with six cards, approximately 3.6" wide by 2 1/6" tall — a bit larger than the standard 3.5" x 2" North American business card. I Attached the cards together to force Design Space to Print Then Cut a three by two grid of them on a single page of cardstock, rather than trying to make them all right-side up and spread over two pages.

I next tried to create a bordered card using one of the "Gold Digital Papers" designs from Design Bundles. I rescaled the paper from a 12" x 12" background to 1.25" and tiled it over a business card template in InDesign. I layered an opaque white rectangle in front, and my text box on top, and exported my single card to an importable .jpg file. After uploading my card to Design Space and resizing it a bit, I used the Square from Basic Shapes and elongated it into a 3.5" x 2" rectangle, centered it over the card, tweaked my card size, and Sliced the two layers it to create my business card. Setting these cards one next to the other which comes out to three rows of two cards, rotated sideways, plus one card in readable orientation. These printed out well, but my choice of typeface resulted in unreadably small text.

Finally, I used a background from a group called "Set of Marble Texture Cards" along with the "LD Laundry" typeface to create something a bit whimsical. I also used the Web Warren's short URL generator to create a custom link to my Design Space profile. Between this version and the gold-and-black design, I found that even Print Then Cut can end up with very small registration errors that can mar the final finish of your business card.

I reformatted my canvas with the Marble Texture card to allow for bleed. This reduced my yield per sheet of cardstock from 7 to 6. At a retail price of $16 per 100-sheet pack of 100-lb cardstock, this comes out to just under three cents per card for the cardstock. Compare this to $25 per 500-card (50-sheet) package of microperforated business card blanks, and you come out ahead, despite the larger volume of wasted-space on a page. Of course, if you're like me and buy on sale or with a coupon, your costs may be a bit less. Then again, the amount of time it takes to feed page after page of cardstock into the printer and then your cutter may make the costs of a service... worth it.

Update: check these posts for info on how to make a matching business card holder for a desk or display table:
Upright Business Card Holder
Slanted Business Card Holder

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